This is a discussion on Sand Blasting? within the Projects forums, part of the Firearm Forum category; I have a question. I have a old Smith M649 as one of my carry guns.Over the years it's showing age from regular use.
I have a question. I have a old Smith M649 as one of my carry guns.Over the years it's showing age from regular use.
I hear people saying Glass Bead blasting it.I have a small SAND blaster and have thought about using it on my carry gun.
Can it be sand blasted or do I have to go the Glass Bead route?I've heard the sand is to fine and doesn't do as good a job as the Glass Beads do.
I want to put a matte finish on it,a matte finish takes the glare off of it.
I'm just not sure if sand blasting is the answer.I prefer a matte finish and thought if sand blasting will work I can do it myself and save a few bucks.
Both sand and glass bead blasting are very similar processes and both can use different sized particles. The finer the particle the gentler the abrasion which means a fine particle blast will take longer to create the desired finish but will remove less materials as you approach your desired result.
If you can find a spot normally covered, such as an area under a grip, you can experiment and see if the finish is to your liking but you must be careful in your approach. You’ll have to disassemble the gun and protect all areas that are not exposed surfaces. Only those surfaces that are non-bearing and non-functional should be treated (blasted) so tape, cover and plug all other surfaces on those parts you wish to refinish.
I have used a fine particle blaster to refinish steel parts and remove surface stains but have never refinished a gun before. I also don’t know if the M649 ever came in a nickel plated version. Sand blasting plated surfaces can give some funky results unless you persevere until all plating is removed and that would take time with fine particle blasting.
Sand blasting usually requires special tapes and plug material but I have had success using regular masking tape and rubber plugs. Just be very cautious about protecting everything but the surface you wish to finish as fine particle blasting has a nasty habit of getting into very small openings. Lastly, be very anal about cleaning and sand removal after you complete the process and be sure to get a light coating of oil or a nice wax coating on those surfaces as soon as possible. Surface blasting will remove any passivation or protective surface preparations that may have been done on the steel. That last statement does not come from gun experience as I do not know exactly which treatments, if any, are used on gun steels but I do know what we use on other steel components and oil or wax are good protection for steel surfaces (oil is better).
Thanks BronxBoy, I appreciate your step by step process.I'm not a gunsmith by any means as far as fully disassembling it.I'm sure I can do it if I take my time.
The M-649 is stainless and the model 49's were the same guns except they were regular steel. I think they were available in nickel and I know they were in blue.The same model was available in air weight model called the model 38. I'll have to see what all it entails to fully take it apart.This gun is in still very good condition and I don't want to mess it up.I've had it for about 25 years and it's been a real good companion.Once again I do appreciate your reply.I'll let you know if I decide to do it and how it comes out.
I will have to agree with Bronxboy. I too have done a lot of metal finishing and have found that if you use a good quality masking tape (3M) and trim carefuly, you will get very good results. Also be careful not to direct the air flow at the edge of the tape in such a way that it will lift the tape off the part.
I also think that glass beads are more forgiving than sand. It takes a little longer with glass but it should give you a nice matte finish. You should be able to find glass beads at most any good auto paint store.
Good luck and post some pix when you get 'er done.
I don't know if I'll mess with it or just leave it the way it is.It's not in that bad a shape and never doing anything like this before I hate to chance making it look worse then it is.After the replies slow down I'm going to print this for future reference.
Back in the days when I used to rebuild motorcycles, sandblasting was used to strip down the frames for crack inspection and repainting, along with some other of the steel parts ... glassbeading was reserved for the softer aluminum engine parts, like cylinder heads and side cases, and some steel sheetmetal items, where you didn't want the thin metal blown through ... for myself, I'd try the glassbeads for this project, sand can really erode the material away fast.
The plastic beading souds interesting ... makes perfect sense for aircraft skin ...JL
I know the Smithsonian used (or used) crushed walnut hulls for corrosian control when they were restoring the ME-262 in their collection. From my personal experience sand leaves a rougher surface, and glass beaded surfaces have a matte surface. I have never worked with glass beads, but know that once they are used, they are used(from my understanding they explode after impact). Unlike sand which gets reused.
Thanks again for all the replies..I'll decide what I want to do eventually.Sand blasting is out.I don't know if my cheap Campbells Hausfeld sand blaster will work with anything but sand.It's sound like it's going to get more involved then I really want to get into.
Some very good advice has been given so far (a hard act to follow)
I've bead blasted several of my stainless handguns. I have a small blast cabinet that I use for glass bead. I usually do sand outside with a small blast gun; it's a little more expensive this way, but you can recover some of the sand if you shoot into a large container (I use a plastic 55 gal. trash can).
Sand will give you a much darker subdued look (after wipe down) than glass bead. I often use sand first, to blend surface imperfections, then follow with glass bead. You can manipulate the finishes by buffing or an application of steel wool. As mentioned, you can use masking tape to shield areas that you do not want blasted. It's best to disassemble as far as possible because the media can get into all little nooks and crannies. For S&W revolvers, it's good to have punch made especially for doomed head pins (I've read that people have made them from nail sets with good results). If you don't have punches to remove a frame mounted firing pin or ejector rod detent, all is not lost, I have done pistols without removing them. The media will clog them up to the point they will not move. To clear them I start trying to work the parts under running water, as it frees up some, I hit it with some WD40. I alternate this and blast with air until it moves freely and I see/feel no signs of the blast media. It's not ideal, but I have fired hundreds of rounds with those guns with no problems or discernible wear. Cylinder and yoke assemblies need to be completely disassembled and cleaned before blasting. Brownells sells a tool to turn the ejector rod with, but it can be done in a padded vice.
Here are a few guns that I have blasted:
Security Six that was sand blasted, then shot with low pressure glass bead:
A Frankenstein MKII/45 that was sand blasted and buffed:
S&W Model 60 that was sand blasted, then bead blasted. I left the top rib on this gun sand blasted; you see some shots with that on this page:
If you decide to blast your Smith and I can be of help give me a shout.
When I was working with sandblasting, we sometimes laid out designs, cut them out and etched them with sandblasting. Depending on what you are doing (depth or pressure settings) different mediums could be used to mask, but mostly we used an adhesive backed rubber that was used to mark monuments. I've used different adhisive backed vinyl, you just have to be careful working around the edges of thinner mediums. I bring this up after thinking about frame mounted firing pins. You could mask the hammer channel side, and the cylinder side.